Encouraging good teachers to work in low-achieving schools makes a positive difference at primary school level, according to a new report from the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance in the US.
It presents findings from a randomised experiment that tested whether transfer incentives can improve student test scores and other outcomes in low-achieving schools. The intervention, known to participants as the Talent Transfer Initiative (TTI), was implemented in ten school districts in seven states. The highest-performing teachers in each district – those who ranked in roughly the top 20 per cent within their subject and grade span in terms of raising student achievement year after year – were identified. These teachers were offered $20,000, paid in instalments over a two-year period, if they transferred into and remained in designated schools that had low average test scores. The main findings of the study were as follows:
The transfer incentive successfully attracted high-performing teachers to lower-performing schools and retained them in these schools during the two years.
Transfer incentives had a positive impact on maths and reading achievement at elementary school level (age 6–11). These impacts were equivalent to raising achievement by between 4 and 10 percentile points relative to all students in their home state.
There was no impact on student achievement at the middle school level (age 11–14) in either maths or reading.
Source: Transfer Incentives for High-Performing Teachers: Final Results from a Multisite Randomized Experiment (2013), Institute of Education Sciences.